(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 9 January 2017, Brisbane, Australia, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.6)
At the time of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, he would say that anyone who does not chant 64 rounds, is fallen. He said to chant a minimum of 4 rounds. Now, 4 rounds did not necessarily mean going back to Godhead in this lifetime, but it meant that at least some connection is there. 64 rounds, however, was the program. That was the straight path back to Godhead. But Prabhupada brought it down to 16 rounds, accompanied by his prayer, so therefore 16 is the blessed number for going back to Godhead.
So we must chant that number – that blessed number, even if it is difficult. “Why not 12? I can manage 12. I cannot manage 16.” I do not care, you still have to chant 16. “But…” There is no ‘but’ because 16 is the blessed number! It is not what you can do, it is where the blessings are. It is the shortcut. It is the minimum that Prabhupada brought it down to. He lowered the threshold of the spiritual world. Prabhupada said, “Simply 4 regulative principles with a minimum of 16 rounds and then you go back to Godhead”.
He also said, “Why just 16 rounds? Why not 16,000 rounds?” Actually, real chanting begins after the 16 rounds are completed, because then you can just chant without that pressure of “I have to chant”. As long as we are chanting 16 rounds, there is always this pressure. So sometimes it is said that real chanting begins after the chanting of 16 rounds.